Reviews

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2006 American festive film is directed by Michael Lembeck and is the third and final instalment in the ‘Santa Clause’ trilogy. It stars Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret.

With Carol Claus (Mitchell) expecting her first child, Santa Claus/Scott Calvin (Allen) decides to unite the families at the North Pole to help boost her spirit as their secrets prevent contact with many in the outside world. Ex-wife Laura (Crewson), her husband Neil (Reinhold) and daughter Lucy (Mumy) visit with Carol’s parents Bud (Arkin) and Sylvia (Margret), but under the illusion that they are really in Canada, and Scott is a toy manufacturer.

Meanwhile, envious by Santa’s popularity, Legendary Figure Jack Frost (Short) pretends to help Santa prepare for Christmas, but really starts creating chaos by sabotaging many of the workshops and machines, sending the families into meltdown with the stress Santa must deal with.

Frost manipulates Santa into the “Escape Clause”, a series of actions that alters time to undo his career as Santa and effectively leaves the position open, which Frost intends to steal and change Christmas forever. Only with Lucy’s help can Scott unite his family and re-take his place as Santa before it is too late, and Christmas is lost forever…

The gags and general content from the original film back in 1994 have drastically changed over 12 years, and the final chapter shows the signs. With the shortest running time, this has a very thin plot and tired looking performances that don’t really have the passion the original did.

Its breath of ‘cold’ air comes from Martin Short as Jack Frost, one of the newcomers to the films cast, alongside the amusing and cantankerous Alan Arkin, to inject some fun into things. With an over-the-top but suitably creepy turn as our villain, he gurns and grins and sneaks his way along as only Martin Short can; camp and amusing for all the wrong reasons, but hard not to love.

Tim Allen is clearly devoid of new material and does a basic job, with little heart and passion, as a manic, bumbling and often inept Santa Claus; his turn as Scott Calvin is always better as he gets the chance to do a little more than run around looking stressed. But by now there is little real heart and meaning in the film and just focusing on slapstick gags and very thin sentiment.

The effects are a little cleaner and the set design is always improving film after film with the North Pole now a town rather than just a small underground workshop, and it’s cute and cuddly and Christmassy, but everything else is just a little lazy with no real meat to get stuck into.

It just about avoids being as childish as the second, but still comes over as tired and a little lost for ideas, and it certainly wraps up the story of Scott Calvin effectively with a sugar-coated finale that is eye-rolling naff, but still sums up what Christmas is all about when all is said and done.

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